Friday, January 13, 2012

Names - Just for the Fun of It

One of my favorite hobbies is personal names. I like learning the history of names and how they change, the variants in different countries or various pronunciations, nicknames, etc. And coming up with combinations of first and middle names, compiling lists of names I like or of unusual names. It's a lot of fun. There are actually a lot of name sites out there if this sort of thing interests you. The Social Security Administration puts out a list of the 1000 most popular names each year in mid-may. You can see how a name has risen or fallen in popularity since 1880 or see how popular a name is for a girl versus a boy (Hayden is more popular for boys, for instance, but has become pretty popular for girls as well, if not yet quite as popular as for boys). You can see the most popular names in your own state as well. Another good site is babyzone where you can post questions about names or make comments on the message board as well as create polls to get people's opinions on a name. Sites I like to visit that I consider to give good information on names as far as pronunciation, origin, meaning, history, variants, etc. are babynamesworld, behindthename, babynamespedia, babynamewizard,and appellation mountain. Appellation does a name of the day where the author goes into detail about the name, her thoughts on it, comparisons, etc. Babynamewizard has a nice little thing that generates the perfect sibling names to go with a name you type in. Behind the name has the most detailed information on etymology and origin and history and usage, but babynamespedia I find very reliable for this and it explains the pronunciation somewhat better sometimes but mainly, it has very neat charts that show how popular a name is and compare it to similar names and how popular they are, including names that sound similar. So if you like Ava but want something less popular, this is a great site, you can either find a variant that is less popular or a name that sounds similar even if they have different origins, or just a variant spelling. My favorite chart they do though is one that draws lines showing how variants relate to each other. Where does Ellie come from? Is it a nickname for Elizabeth? Is it a nickname for something else? Is it related to any boy names? It's a fabulous chart. Either this site or babynamewizard shows a names popularity over the last hundred years, also a very cool chart (more visual than what the social security administration offers). I actually wind up using babynamesword the most, next to babyzone, though, because of the very cool features it has for looking up names. If I want to find a name ending in ty, I can search for that, one of Hungarian origin, that, of a certain popularity, number of syllables, that begins with y or contains y, etc, and etc. It gives the origins, pronunciation, meaning, historical information (like Dominic was traditionally given to babies born on Sunday) and still gives you a list of similar names, either derived from the same origin, nicknames, or just sounds similar, you can also type in a name and it will give a bunch of names that go with that name, both boy and girl if you are looking for a sibling name or if you want the perfect middle name. You can also see what people think of a name, how popular it is, etc. you can search for names that mean rose (or whatever), search only for girl names, boy names, or both, and when it lists a name, there's a hand little symbol that tells you if it's considered a girl name, a boy name, or a name for both.

That's my rundown of my favorite naming sites. I haven't really been looking for new sites or I'm sure I'd have a bunch more to share. Wikipedia is also handy for learning about names. Type it in and you will get origin, etymology, history, as well as be able to see who the famous people are with that name (behind the name has a nice feature for this as well).

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